Former Thai men's doubles teammates exchange blows

VANCOUVER - They once traded fist bumps as doubles partners on the badminton court.

But Thai shuttlers Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit traded blows last Sunday during the Canada Open men's doubles final at the Richmond Olympic Oval in Vancouver.

The event is a fourth-tier Grand Prix competition, after the SuperSeries Premier, SuperSeries and the Grand Prix Gold tournaments.

Issara, 22, was partnering Pakkawat Vilailak while his former partner Jongjit, also 22, paired up with Nipitphon Puangpuapech in the match.

According to reports, both Issara and Jongjit were warned by the umpire early in the match for a verbal exchange.

They were also glaring at each other, with some claiming both players flipped the bird at each other.

The situation got really ugly during the changeover, after Jongjit and Puangpuapech won the first set.

Issara reportedly confronted his ex-partner and, after a verbal exchange, Jongjit hit out with his racket.

A 25-second YouTube video then showed Issara chasing Jongjit onto an adjacent court.

Issara threw at least three punches and kicked Jongjit when he caught him, as their playing partners and officials converged to separate the two.

Jongjit emerged from the scuffle shirtless and was led away by Vilailak.

Issara received the black card afterwards from the umpire - signalling his disqualification from the final - and two stitches to one of his ears.

It is not known what had caused the bad blood between the former partners.

Said Charoen Wattanasin, president of the Badminton Association of Thailand (BAT): "Any wrongdoer will be penalised because this may affect other international tournaments.

"I've been in the badminton circle for 58 years and I've never seen anything like this. This is very bad."

Issara and Jongjit were once ranked seventh in the world and represented Thailand at last year's London Olympics, reaching the quarter-finals.

They dissolved their partnership at the start of the year, with BAT secretary-general Surasak Songworakulpan explaining that Issara had quit the sport due to injuries, and to take care of his mother.

But badminton website Badzine later reported that Issara had not quit the sport, but was unhappy training at the BAT's facility at Lumpini Park. He then teamed up with Vilailak.

Jongjit and Puangpuacech are currently ranked 15th in the world, while Issara and Vilailak are 67th.

In a statement, world governing body Badminton World Federation (BWF) said: "The BWF is aware of an incident which occurred during the finals of the Yonex Canada Grand Prix tournament on Sunday.

"The men's doubles final ended in unusual circumstances, with a black card being issued to Thailand pair, Bodin Issara and Pakkawat Vilailak, who were disqualified.

"The events surrounding the conclusion of this match will be thoroughly investigated by the BWF... Until this process is concluded, there will be no further comment by the BWF."

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